Despite everything that’s happened this year, our darkest day is still ahead of us – literally, Dec. 21 – the winter solstice – is the shortest day of year.
After that, the light slowly casts out the darkness, about a minute or so each day.
Before Mr. Tesla showed us the way to light the night and Mr. Edison began to market it, gas light or ye’ old torch provided the only means of pushing back the darkness.
Then, we humans spent most of our evenings huddled near those flames for warmth and protection from whatever may lurk in the absence of light.
Thus, historically, we’ve been a mighty happy bunch when the solstice came and, literally, you saw the light.
We still respect the darkness. Something about it still pulls at our collective consciousness as a deep and mysterious thing capable of sending a shiver down our spine. Not many horror stories start with “It was a bright and sunny morning.” Somehow, “It was a dark and stormy night,” seems to immediately capture the imagination and set the stage for something spooky.
It’s likely no coincidence that four days after things start looking brighter that we’ve come up with what is easily our most important festival – one which invokes magic at the mere utterance of the word.
For a good many of us, that’s actually “Christ’s Mass,” a religious observance proclaiming the glory of the newborn king and the gifts bestowed by those three wise men following the signs.
For others, it’s just a time to wonder what your loved ones, buddy or “Santa’ has brought you this year.
The importance of the upcoming day goes far deeper, however, and in that architypical memory of the Old World is where you find the magic.
Santa flies in a sled carried by reindeer. The sack upon his back carries enough toys (manufactured by elves) to give to all the children of the world in just one night.
“He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”
And, for lack of a better term, we call it magic – the belief that good things just seem to happen this time of year.
We don’t know why – other than it’s Christmas – we just expect it whether you’re nine or 99.
Perhaps this year more than others, we sure could use a little of that magic.
I’ve heard a couple of people already saying they don’t intend to celebrate this year. There’s too many basics that need to be taken care of, especially among those washed out by Harvey’s waters.
Not celebrating Christmas, however, seems to me like letting that darkness win. You may not get it, but what’s wrong with wishing for a pony, the latest video game, a car, your health, a place to live or safety for your family.
The light’s coming.
So is that chance for a miracle.
And sometimes wishes do come true.
– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.